A Kid in the June 2019 Candy Store

June 2019 has me feeling like a kid in a candy store.

I’m remarkably excited by the variety of things that are catching my interest and attention this month—so much so that I’m finding it difficult to decide what to do next.

A large part of that is due to all of the announcements at WWDC—but that is not all.

The Monday after WWDC, I wrote about an app I want to create that might be easier to build due to new technologies introduced at WWDC. Foremost among them was SwiftUI which I have really enjoyed digging into.

My week following the developer conference was a flurry of watching session videos and digging into things. But WWDC was not the only thing going on in the world in a few weeks back. On May 31st, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened at Disneyland.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

As a big Disneyland and Star Wars fan, had it been any other time of year, I would have tried to be there opening weekend. However, just days before WWDC, with a big LIVE near WWDC show to rehearse and prepare for, there was no way I could make it down to Anaheim.

I didn’t have to wait long though. Last weekend I had the chance to visit Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland. I feel like they’ve done an amazing job of creating a place that feels very much a part of the Star Wars universe, even though it a brand new location not depicted in any of the movies. My inner nine-year old found it very satisfying to fly the Millennium Falcon, build my own lightsaber, and yes, drink some blue milk.

Combine Framework and Foundation

On Monday I headed home from Disneyland as Beta 2 dropped for Xcode 11, iOS 13, macOS 10.15, and all the rest.

The new beta includes Combine framework support for Foundation classes. So, it just became possible to write code to explore the same sort of data publishing pipelines that were presented in the Combine sessions at WWDC. This includes publishing notifications, properties, and timers.

So, another whole aisle of candy just opened up and I’ve spent most of the week catching up from my trip, rewatching Combine videos from WWDC, and playing around with Combine code.

So far, I am feeling the same sort of enjoyment in writing Combine code as I have had writing SwiftUI code. The main area of frustration I am finding with Combine is that the session videos are the primary place to see Combine sample code. (If I am missing a trove of Combine sample code from Apple – please let me know on Micro.blog or Twitter!) So, I’m finding that anything not covered in those sessions takes bit of trial and error to figure out.

Along the same lines, the code in the sessions often show the path from publisher through operators to subscriber, but don’t necessarily talk about who should be holding onto the publisher or the cancelable item returned from the subscriber, or exactly when it makes sense to set them up. It would be great to see more Combine framework sample code from Apple showing it in integrated into an app project, especially traditional UIKit and AppKit apps.

Toy Story 4, Forky, and WALT

Today I put the Combine framework aside for a few hours to go see Toy Story 4. Every time Pixar announces a sequel I worry that this is the one where they will jump the shark in the franchise. I am very happy to say that I really enjoyed Toy Story 4. I found Forky to be absolutely delightful!

If you know me for any length of time, you will soon discover that I am a big fan of Disney and Pixar animation.

WALT app icon
WALT app

The first iOS app I wrote is WALT: Watched Animation List Tracker. It’s not a commercial success by any means, but it’s an something I wanted to have in the world. It lists over 650 short and full length animated films from Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios and lets you check off the ones you’ve watched.

Got to check off Toy Story 4 in WALT today.

I wrote about the creation of WALT shortly after I released it back in 2012. (Was that really about seven years ago? Wow!) A heads-up if you are thinking about paying 99 cents for the app, I do intend to make it a free app and add a tip jar. However there are many other things ahead of that on my to-do list, so I can’t tell you exactly when that will happen.

As mentioned in that original article, one inspiration for WALT was the The Walt Disney Family Museum (WDFM) in San Francisco. I have been a member since it opened ten years ago. The location is beautiful, in the Presidio with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. And I find the museum and the story that it tells to be inspirational.

Fantasia Talk at The Walt Disney Family Museum

In addition to the exhibits at the museum, one of the things I enjoy most are the programs that they have throughout the year. In the past I have seen many great talks that speak to the creative process. For instance last year, I saw Brad Bird speak about his experiences working with classic Disney animators. I’ve seen animators Andreas Dejas and Floyd Norman talk about their time at Disney. And I’ve had the chance to see original Imagineers like Alice Davis and Marty Sklar.

Tomorrow I’ll heading up to San Francisco to see a talk by composer Fabrizio Mancinelli called The Beauty and Legacy of Fantasia. I’ve always enjoyed and been fascinated with the way animation and music can work together to achieve an effect and look forward to hearing what I believe will be an interesting perspective.

That’s A Lot Of Candy

In feeling like a kid in a candy store, June 2019 is not just some quaint little corner candy store. It’s been a giant store with aisle after aisle of classic candies, exotic candies from faraway places, and brand new candies you had never even heard of before.

With all of this intellectual and experiential candy, I hope I do not get the psychological equivalent of a bellyache. But even if I do, it has been a very memorable and enjoyable month so far. •

Disney California Adventure—A Visual History

Pixar Pier opened at Disney California Adventure this past Saturday, giving Paradise Pier a new theme and a new name.

This inspired me to create this timeline showing the evolution of lands at DCA since its opening.

Timeline of how the lands evolved at Disney California Adventure Park, 2001 - 2018

Click for PDF Version

With the renaming of Paradise Pier, none of the opening day lands of Disney California Adventure remain.

This does not mean that all attractions, buildings, or theming of the original lands have been replaced. It means that every land existing on opening day has at least been renamed, with many rethemed, and some reassigned to other lands.

On opening day, DCA guide maps listed four lands: Entry Plaza1, Hollywood Pictures Backlot, Golden State, and Paradise Pier. These are all now gone.

Golden State was divided into areas, mini-lands within a big land: Grizzly Peak Recreation Area, Condor Flats, The Bay Area, Pacific Wharf, and Golden Vine Winery. These were not full lands when the park opened. Over time, some areas have disappeared as separate areas (The Bay Area, Golden Vine Winery), while others have become lands of their own (Grizzly Peak, Pacific Wharf), and one area even managed to do both (Condor Flats).2

I believe DCA is the only Disney park that has replaced or renamed all of its opening day lands.3

Research for the timeline was done using my collection of guide maps from the park as well as online announcements or news articles of land and attraction openings and closings. Please feel free to send me any feedback or corrections at http://jamesdempsey.net/contact.

Also feel free to contact me at http://jamesdempsey.net/contact if you have guide maps from the early years of DCA that you are willing to sell – or send photos of. I am particularly trying to find DCA maps between late February and late May 2001 to pinpoint the change from Entry Plaza to Sunshine Plaza.

I’ve enjoyed witnessing the transformation of Disney California Adventure over its seventeen year history and hope you enjoy this visual history of its lands. •

About me: I’m a Disney, Pixar, and Apple history hobbyist. I worked at Apple for fifteen years then set out on my own as a software developer, technical trainer, speaker, and musician. I write humorous songs about technical things. My album debuted at #5 on the Billboard comedy album charts and was the #1 comedy album on iTunes in the US, UK, and Canada. If you or someone you know (or someone in Disney Imagineering) needs an original song with clever lyrics contact me!


Yes, Entry Plaza. The opening day DCA guide maps use this name. Within months, the name on the maps changed to Sunshine Plaza

Golden Vine Winery is a good example an area which is still very similar to opening day, but has technically ‘disappeared’. This was originally an area, or sub-land, of Golden State. When the Seasons of the Vine attraction closed and became reopened as Walt Disney Imagineering Blue Sky Cellar, the reopened attraction was now listed as part of Pacific Wharf, where it remains as of 2018. 

Pacific Wharf is the only remaining original land or area that has not been renamed. But it was not a land on opening day, it began as an area of Golden State and was not promoted to a full land until 2012. Grizzly Peak Recreation Area was renamed to the much simpler Grizzly Peak when it also became a full land in 2012.